Stop #5: Magnetic Island 7/29 – 7/30

Magnetic Island is an island a few kilometers away from Townsville. One of the biggest reason why I decided to make a stop here before heading to Cairns is because Magnetic Island’s nickname is Maggie. It was a bit of a struggle to fit this 2day 1night visit since I had originally scheduled to skydive on July 30th. Generally, visitors come here to snorkel, fish, and engage in water sports.

It was a difficult morning for me because the corner of the crown on my inner right tooth suddenly chipped off. I was on the bus and suddenly part of my tooth just fell off! I was in shock and I was so paranoid that the rest of the tooth or teeth would continue to fall off. It felt like one of those falling teeth nightmares coming true. My teeth had been aching on my west coast trip. I am assuming my tooth had been decaying for weeks to a point where it was so brittle, it just chipped away. Looks like another costly expense to take into consideration when I get home; getting that fixed is probably going to cost thousands. My main concern is to prevent the tooth from getting infected while I’m still abroad!

Taking the early 7AM Greyhound from Airlie Beach to Townsville, I arrived at the ferry terminal at noon. I bought a round trip package to the island along with a day pass for the local hop on hop off bus for $35 AUD. The bus conveniently picked me up at the other end of the ferry terminal and brought me to the Bungalow by the Bay Koala Village hostel. With limited time here, I immediately dropped my stuff off in my bungalow dorm and jumped onto the next bus to Alma Bay.

Rock wallaby at Alma Bay
Rock wallaby at Alma Bay

It was quite confusing to navigate the island at first since there weren’t any clear paths for pedestrians. I walked to Alma Bay to see the rock wallabies. Since I did not buy any food to feed them, I just took pictures of these tiny fuzz balls from afar. Although they are considered wild wallabies, they are not very afraid of humans since they are used to people going there to feed them. Next, I walked along Geoffrey Bay down to Nelly Bay, where the ferry terminal is. There was a nicely built pedestrian walkway alongside the freeway for people to stroll down the island while enjoying the view of the bay. I took the bus to Picnic Bay since I had the day pass to take advantage of. The area had a ‘mall’ for food and souvenirs and a small jetty for people to fish.

I hiked up to Hawkings Point to watch the sunset. The journey up was a bit confusing since there were some split paths and fallen signs with arrows pointing in opposite directions. I finally made it up to the lookout which was on top of a huge rock up the mountain. I was concerned with the walk back down since the area was so secluded (and what the lady at the information desk referred as a hidden trail); I would only imagine it would be even more challenging to navigate back down after sundown in the dark. The lookout had a nice view of the southern parts of the island and an elevated view of the sun setting. I assumed no one else would be joining me up there for sunset so I decided to sing aloud to my iPod as if I am in a shower. Just my luck, a local retired fireman and his dog trekked their way up to the lookout. Hopefully, he did not hear my awful singing, haha. It was quite nice to be able to learn more about the island through a local and have him guide me back down the hill. Back at Picnic Bay, I sat on the jetty while waiting for the bus to Horseshoe Bay where my hostel was. I am glad that I decided to wait on the jetty instead of the bus stop since I was lucky enough to spot a small manta ray in the dark water. Did not get to see one in the Ningaloo Reef, but I guess this makes up for it.

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Picnic Bay

With another half a day left on the island before returning to Townsville to catch the bus to Cairns, I woke up early to do the Forts hike and visit the Five Bays. Thanks to my roommate, I was able to have a solid brekky before starting what turned out to be a 5 hour hike. I got lost finding the entrance to the Forts hike. It was quite an easy class 1-2 type walk up to the fort. Unfortunately, I was unable to spot any koalas on my way up. There was a nice overview of the westerly bits of the island  at the highest point of the climb.

After the Fort hike, I continued along the Radical Bay Road to visit the five bays: Arthur Bay, Florence Bay, Radical Bay, Balding Bay, and Horseshoe Bay. With no clear maps and road signs, I hiked with uncertainty for the most part until I finally saw someone in the passing to confirm that this road actually leads to the bays. I was thrown off in a tangent a couple of times, but I was able to complete the trails in time to catch the ferry back to Townsville. The largest bay was Horseshoe Bay where people can take on different water activities. The other bays were smaller and more quiet. The journey to reach the last 3 bays were rather strenuous. The one way return trail detour to Balding Bay was the most difficult as parts of the path were extremely rocky to the extent where I would consider a class 4-5 hike. I accidentally went off track when I was making my way back up the mountain; I was wondering why it was so much harder to cross, haha. With the time constraint, I must admit that I would have been better off skipping Balding Bay even though it was supposed to be the most beautiful one.

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View from the Fort
The field by Radical Bay
The field by Radical Bay

Overall, I found Maggie to be a quiet and relaxing home to many Aussies. I noticed an overwhelming population of elderly people living on the island. Perhaps the peaceful environment is inviting for retirees to stay there or couples to raise families. There aren’t many shops and such to maintain the interest of young adults for anything longer than a short getaway. I cannot say I was taken away by any of the natural beauty on the island. For the efforts needed to make this stop possible and the rush I had to go through, I would say it was not the most worthwhile visit. Another bummer was that there were less references to Maggie than I had expected.

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